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When it came right down to it, Riverdale Ridge’s RJ Holliday followed a basic human instinct in choosing a college.

“When I visited Augustana University, they were extremely welcoming, made me feel very at home, part of their program and invested in my higher education,” Holliday said. He’ll sign his college letter Friday, Feb. 25, at RRHS. “We talked a lot about the education I would get at AU from such a high-ranking university and business school. 

“From the minute I walked on the campus at AU, visited the business college and met the football coaching staff, I could just feel it was the place for me.”

Augustana, which is in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, wasn’t the only school that attracted Holliday’s interest.

“I had 12 good offers to choose from, which made this process difficult and stressful: he said. “But I had family and good coaches who told me I would just know when the college was right. I would feel it, and I did at AU. Distance from home did not play into my decision. My goal has always been to go out of state and play football (NCAA) D2 or higher collegiately at a university with a great business school.”

Outgoing RRHS Principal Terry Elliott called Holliday” a true student-athlete.”

“I knew he’d be a good fit from Day 1, when we met,” RRHS football coach Wayne Voorhees said. “He’s been great, and it’s been awesome to watch you grow. What he did on both sides of the ball was unbelievable.”

RRHS was 4-5 in 2021. Holliday caught 35 passes for 767 yards and 10 touchdowns. Holliday also plays on the Ravens’ basketball team. Through 19 games, he was averaging about 2.5 points and 2.7 rebounds per game. He wants to study business with the goal of opening his own sports business.

“The recruiting process was difficult during a pandemic, though honestly, I wouldn’t know the process any different since when I was going through it there was a pandemic going on,” Holliday said. “From what coaches told me, it was hard for them since the NCAA granted players an extra year due to the pandemic. That took scholarship money away from the programs to offer high-school players/incoming freshmen. I think it will have a negative effect on a lot of college teams at all levels the next couple years.” 

Holliday overcame one other issue .. transferring to RRHS from Bishop Machebeuf High School.

“I thought having to transfer in the middle of my high-school career was hard, but it turned out to be a blessing,” he said. “I have made long lasting relationships at Riverdale Ridge High School from friends to teammates to coaches to teachers. It’s a great school with even greater people who make up the Raven community. Thanks RRHS for welcoming me and making me a part of the Nest.”

Holliday said he was “anxious and excited” about what lies ahead.

“I have put in a lot of work, a lot of hours, a lot of blood, sweat and tears to accomplish these goals. But it is just the beginning of my journey,” Holliday said. “Now, I’m ready to start working even harder to accomplish my college and next level goals.”

“I’m excited to watch your success as you grow into a young man,” Voorhees said.